Academy Awards® for Sound
No less an authority than George Lucas has said that sound is half the movie experience. A good soundtrack works with the picture to create a complete environment that brings the story alive. This has been recognized nearly as long as movies have been in existence—even silent films often had musical accompaniment.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honors the importance of sound with awards for sound mixing and for sound editing. Both contribute to the overall sound of a film. Here’s a quick look at how they differ.
Essentially, the sound mixing category refers to how a movie's dialogue, music, and effects all work together in the final soundtrack. Basic steps in sound mixing include:
Recording on location during filming
Postproduction re-recording to balance the soundtrack elements
Preparing the preview and final mixes
Sound editing involves locating (or creating) and recording all the needed elements for the soundtrack. A few of the duties of a sound editor could include:
Fixing unintelligible dialogue
Finding authentic sounds for an action sequence
Creating believable sounds for an animated creature
Sound editors can be generalists, knowledgeable in dialogue, music, and effects; or they can specialize in one of the fields.
An Example of Sound Editing and Sound Mixing
When you hear the rats squeaking in Raiders of the Lost Ark, you're hearing the work of the sound editor (Ben Burtt, in this case). Because the squeak of most real rats is beyond our hearing range, he determined what we expect rats to sound like, then figured out how to create those sounds for the movie. The volume of the squeaks, the timing with the dialogue—that's the sound mixer at work.
Some Outstanding Soundtracks
For the past 35 years, every film that has earned Academy Award nominations in either the sound mixing or sound editing category has been released with Dolby® technologies—from Dolby Stereo through our latest audio platform, Dolby Atmos™. To hear what can be done with cinema sound, check out some of these films. All of them won Academy Awards for both their sound editing and sound mixing.
The Hurt Locker
Raiders of the Lost Ark
E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial
Saving Private Ryan
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